Daily Archives: November 4, 2010

Jim Pickard

This morning Sir Gus O’Donnell told a committee of MPs that he published advice pre-election on how politicians should conduct coalition talks on the advice of the Queen.

As Chris Hope at the Telegraph writes:

Officials were desperate to ensure that the Queen would not be put in the position where she would have to choose between parties to in a bid to help set up a stable government.

The booklet still hasn’t been published and is awaiting ministerial approval before its release. (Sir Gus hopes this will be before Christmas). Interestingly, the manual covers much more than the section on coalition talks: it has around a dozen chapters covering ministers’ relations with Europe, devolved governments, the monarchy, the government, peers, civil servants and councils.

That, some suspect, sounds rather a lot like a draft written constitution. Read more

Jim Pickard

The letter published today by the Treasury – from BAE Systems to David Cameron – is a bombshell that explains in stark outline why ministers pressed ahead with an order for two aircraft carriers despite fiscal constraints.

Alex revealed a month ago that the contract was written in such a way that cancelling one of the ships would still leave taxpayers with a similar bill to proceeding with both. Read more

Jim Pickard

Before Andrew Tyrie became chair of the Treasury select committee I predicted that the Tory MP would make a tough and independent figurehead for the body. This has so far been the case.

This morning he put the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the spot by asking whether he had exaggerated the scale of the financial crisis facing Britain to justify massive public spending cuts. Read more

Jim Pickard

For some inexplicable reason there were titters at the morning lobby press briefing when the prime minister’s spokesman said that a new technology city near the Olympic Park would “rival Silicon Valley (pictured)”.

David Cameron will say later today that:

“Right now, Silicon Valley is the leading place in the world for high-tech growth and innovation but there’s no reason why it has to be predominant.”

It is true that the government has done well by luring Google, Facebook, Intel and McKinsey to set up outposts at the new tech park by the River Lea. (Although BT politely declined, according to Guido). And there is nothing wrong with having ambitions, a la Field of Dreams (‘build it and they will come‘).

But Stratford (pictured) still has some way to go before it catches up with Silicon Valley, the Californian hub of American high-tech enterprise, which is home to the following 100-and-something companies (courtesy of Wikipedia).

 Read more

Just imagine the decision had gone the other way. Just imagine that the coalition had waved through News Corp‘s proposed £8.2bn bid to take British Sky Broadcasting private.

The story now would be about David Cameron overruling his coalition partners as well as his officials, shunning the need for an independent assessment of a complex competition issue, all in order to intervene on behalf of the most powerful media dynasty in the English speaking world. Read more